Electrifying Government Fleets & Police Cars, & Customizing Tesla Cybertrucks

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KJ Gimbel, founder and CEO of Xcelerate Auto, recently talked with CleanTechnica about the benefits and obstacles to electrifying government fleets, including police fleets. This is a true deep dive into public sector fleet management culture and the leasing process in that sector.

Interestingly, to kick off the discussion, KJ noted that they actually leased Tesla’s first vehicle ever back in 2012. A friend of his had a doctor client who wanted to put a new Model S under his practice name. “At that point, Tesla didn’t have any lender support whatsoever, let alone a commercial program. So, they reached out to me — my background is in commercial finance. So, we put together a track lease for that car. After that car delivered, we had a call from Tesla saying, ‘Hey, can you do more of these? We have states that are unsupported and need help, and we have customers that want this.’ And so we kind of branched out and took a — you know, rolled the dice, took the risk, and along with a couple other finance partners, started leasing the very first Teslas ever for Tesla.” Xcelerate Auto then completely made the switch to EVs in 2014.

Since that time, they’ve come out with more products focused on helping people go electric — “like Xcare, which are there to support the EV community, anybody who has a battery-electric vehicle that’s wanting to have that vehicle covered outside the manufacturer’s coverage.”

Unsurprisingly, Xcelerate Auto was the first to help a municipal deployment of Teslas — which was actually near me in Hillsborough County around a Florida university. Jo Borras and KJ discussed obstacles to EV adoption in municipal fleets, and KJ highlighted that the biggest obstacle is simply stigma. There are also other factors like durability for specific uses (like a police officer with a gun holster on), serviceability (how long it will take to get service on a vehicle that needs it), parts availability, etc. And when switching to new technology — whether EVs generally or Teslas specifically — there’s a kind of institutional inertia and hesitancy to make such changes. Naturally, there’s a big difference between fleets in Silicon Valley, California, versus rural Texas, KJ points out.

KJ then also spoke at length about EV police vehicle needs, the purchasing process and market, and how that has changed over time and is still changing now.

They also discuss looking beyond the book value, upfitting, adjusting to the modern tech of EVs, and more. And they go into depth on customizing Tesla Cybertrucks in various ways as well as a host of issues relating to the history of the EV market and where we are today. Listen to the full podcast discussion via the embedded SoundCloud player above or on SpotifyApple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsYouTubeOvercastPocketPodbeanRadio PublicSoundCloud, or Stitcher.

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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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